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Coconut-Macadamia Shortbread

This recipe combines a buttery Scottish tradition with the flavors of the Hawaiian Islands. If you don't have a fluted square cutter, use whatever other shape you have on hand.

  • Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 dozen
Coconut-Macadamia Shortbread

Source: Martha Stewart Living Special Issues, 2005


  • 1 cup macadamia nuts (about 3 ounces), toasted
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons cream of coconut or unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten


  1. Process nuts and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until finely ground; set aside. Process 1 cup coconut until coarsely ground; set aside.

  2. Put butter, cream of coconut, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in coconut extract. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, salt, nut mixture, and ground coconut; mix until combined.

  3. Halve dough. Shape halves into disks, and wrap well in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

  4. Let dough soften before rolling. Roll out each disk on lightly floured parchment to 1/4 inch thick. Cover with plastic; refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut dough into squares using a fluted 2 1/4-inch square cookie cutter. Reroll scraps; continue cutting out squares. Space about 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Lightly brush tops with beaten egg white; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup coconut. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week.

Cook's Note

To toast macadamias, place them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350-degree oven until lightly golden, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Reviews (7)

  • ldingmanrn 12 Jun, 2012

    Macadamia seeds were first imported into Hawaii in 1882 by William H. Purvis. They are originally from Australia.

  • rlcurry1 12 Jun, 2012

    These cookies are really fantastic. I have made them several times at Christmas and I always get tons of compliments on them. They are buttery, mildly nutty with a delicate coconut flavor. The texture is like a really great shortbread cookie. They are definitely a favorite and they make the house smell wonderful when they are baking.

  • rcoward 12 Jun, 2012

    This recipe looks delish!! The macadamian nut is native to Australia and then later was taken to Hawaii. Now it is grown in other countries even United States. Will for sure try this cookie.

  • myke43 20 Jun, 2011

    Macadamia nuts are NOT Australian . They are delicious,
    expensive and grown on plantations in Hawian islands
    such as Maui. Mykele

  • myke43 20 Jun, 2011

    Macadamia nuts are not Australian, they are grown on
    large plantations in Isles. Maui for one.

  • mary kenneally 9 Jun, 2011

    Macadamia nuts are Australian.
    So, the buttery shortbread of Scotland with the [coconut] flavor of Hawaii and the macadamia flavor of Australia - tho' Australia has coconuts too.

  • tuancccc 14 Oct, 2009

    This recipe is definitely a keeper.

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